Four common exercise myths busted

Exercise
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Women shouldn’t lift weights or they’ll get bulky? Find out if this, and other exercise myths, are fact or fiction!

How often have you heard someone chatting away to a friend about their new diet or gym program only to come out with ‘I never do weights because it’ll make me sooo bulky. I only run.’ If this is you, it’s time to put some common exercise myths to rest! We all want to take care of our health and our bodies as best we can, so here are some things you should know about exercise!

You can target fat loss to specific areas

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. While you might want to lose fat from your thighs but keep your shapely hips, it doesn’t really work that way! Fat cells are distributed all over the body and the way you lose fat is determined largely by your genetics – but losing fat overall means that any strength or toning work you do on specific areas might be more noticeable. For example, crunches won’t give you killer abs if there’s a layer of fat on top of them, but once you’ve reduced your overall body fat percentage, you should start to see some payoff from all the crunches.

Women shouldn’t lift weights or they’ll get bulky

It’s actually quite hard for women to get really bulky due to a lack of testosterone. It’s definitely possible, but we can promise that you would have to work really hard with heavy weights and a very focused program to build serious bulk – it takes serious sweat and dedication, so it isn’t just going to happen overnight if you’re lifting weights as part of an exercise routine to keep you fit, healthy, and in good overall shape. Weights will help to accelerate your weight loss (if that’s your aim) as well as make you stronger and help support your joints, which can reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

Doing loads of cardio is the best way to lose weight

Of course this does contain a kernel of truth. Any exercise will help you to lose weight and if you do lots of it, you will see some kilograms drop off. Remember though that lean muscle burns calories so if you increase muscle, you’ll be burning calories without doing “extra” work. A combination of cardio and strength is the best way to lose weight, but remember the old saying that ‘abs are made in the kitchen.’ No matter how much time you spend a the gym, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

Stretching before your workout prevents injury

This is one of those myths that’s been around longer than we can remember. Warming up does help to prevent injury, but that’s not the same as stretching. It’s very important to move your muscles gently before undertaking any strenuous exercise so dynamic stretching (e.g. walking lunges, swinging/circling your arms and high knee jogs) can be very beneficial and enhance performance as well. Static stretching where you remain immobile and “hold” a stretch (e.g. touching your toes) on the other hand has been shown to have very few benefits, and could even reduce performance. Unless you’re doing martial arts, gymnastics or ballet – opt for dynamic stretching and a good warm up to get your muscles loose before you start your workout.

Also check out: Video: Three easy exercises you can do at home